THE SAFETY OF URBAN CYCLE TRACKS: A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

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1 THE SAFETY OF URBAN CYCLE TRACKS: A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Beth Thomas Pedestrian & Bicycle Coordinator California Department of Transportation, District 4 Note: This presentation is for academic informational purposes only and is not intended as a statement of official policy or existing standards of the California Department of Transportation.

2 What Is a Cycle Track? Bikeway along a city street that is physically separated from motorized vehicle traffic lanes and also separate from the sidewalk Generally placed between auto lanes and sidewalk Separated from auto traffic by raised curb, planting strip or on-street parking 1-way on each side of street or 2-way on one side of street Long Beach. Source: Orange20bikes.com

3 Why Is This Review Needed? Catch 22 of Cycle Tracks in the US Lack of examples lack of studies lack of safety data reluctance to build them Literature poorly understood in the US Most studies from Northern Europe Many not published in journals or peer reviewed Some not published in English

4 Methods 22 papers dating since 1987 were located 13 on safety of cycle tracks compared to riding in the street 9 on effectiveness of intersection safety measures All from Northern Europe with exception of one from Canada Caution should be used in applying exact crash modification factors to US situation Instead direction and magnitude of effect provide general guidance

5 Studies Not Controlling for Exposure Major limitation in not accounting for the amount of cycling Did not develop crash rates or assess relative risk Cycle tracks that increased cycling at a higher rate than crashes looked worse even if cyclist risk went down If absolute # of crashes were the only factor, no roads would be built for cars Mainly an issue in earlier studies West Berlin Police Dept. (1987), Bach et al. (1988), Larsen (1994), Eilert-Petersson and Schelp (1997), Agerholm (2008) (Agerholm also excluded far-side intersection crashes) Only Larsen (1994) and Eilert-Petersson & Schelp (1997) are published, peer reviewed studies

6 Early Dutch Studies & Mopeds Wegman & Dijkstra and Welleman & Dijkstra (1988) Published in government reports Findings: Moped riders: relatively many crashes with cyclists and peds Cycle tracks safer between intersections but with increased crash rate at intersections Recommendations: Prohibit moped riders on cycle tracks End cycle tracks before intersection Utrecht, Netherlands. Source: Molly Marie, 2wheels2feet

7 Early Dutch Studies & Mopeds Changes in Dutch Practice Dec 1999: moped riders prohibited from using cycle tracks in urban areas except where speed limit > 70 kph (45 mph) Raised crossings at many intersections rather than forcing cyclists into traffic Source: nl-bike Groningen, Netherlands. Source: Cambridge Cycling Campaign

8 Studies Limited to Intersections Expert Opinion Model: Garder et al. (1994) Locations in Sweden Bayesian method combined opinion survey with field results from 4 previous studies Recommended ending cycle track before an intersection Limitations Results of previous studies varied widely Gothenberg, Sweden. Source: Reading Toronto Survey respondents not randomly sampled; basis for expert opinion not given Excluded crashes between intersections, not giving overall safety effect

9 Studies Limited to Intersections U.S. Sidewalk Riding Study: Wachtel & Lewiston (1994) Studied sidewalks designated as bikeways in Palo Alto, California Not cycle tracks, but included here due to influence in US Excluded crashes between intersections Lusk et al. re-analyzed data (2011) Relative risk of sidewalk riding 1.07 when all crashes included When only including cyclists going in same direction as nearest traffic lane, relative risk is 0.87 for intersections and 0.53 overall

10 Study Using a Prediction Model Jensen (2007) From conference proceedings, but not published or peer reviewed Before-after study with a comparison group Locations in Copenhagen Prediction model based on: Cycling/moped traffic volume Motorized traffic volume Historical trend in collisions, injuries of comparison group Copenhagen. Source: Will Sherman, CityPhile

11 Study Using a Prediction Model Jensen (2007) (cont.) Results suggest that introducing cycle tracks reduces some collision types while raising others Fewer: Rear-end crashes and injuries Crashes with left-turning bicycles/mopeds Crashes with parked vehicles More: Crashes with right-turning vehicles Crashes between bicyclists, mopeds and pedestrians Copenhagen. Source: livablestreets.info

12 Study Using a Prediction Model Jensen (2007) (cont.) Limitations Model not adjusted after it underpredicted crashes in test comparing before-before to before In testing, observed 5% more crashes & 9% more injuries than predicted When applied, the 9% and 12% increase in crashes and injuries could be partially or largely explained by imprecision in model Question of similarity of comparison group to test group Major routes targeted for cycle tracks Traffic volume of comparison group not reported Many of the studied roads/intersections are in the far end of the traffic volume axis, i.e. much trafficked, and we are therefore close to or outside the boundaries of the possible crash model s valid area (page 4) Before and after crashes were not divided by cyclist volume to assess change in relative risk

13 Studies of Two-Way Cycle Tracks Finnish Studies Found increased risk of collisions due to intersection conflicts Primary cause is driver looking to left while cyclist came from right Limitations Did not account for injury severity Helsinki. Source: Veloartisanbread.com Cycle tracks have reduced risk of overtaking collisions Overtaking collisions have highest fatality rate Rasanen and Summala (1998), Pasanen and Rasanen (unpublished, 1999), Pasanen (unpublished & undated)

14 Studies of Two-Way Cycle Tracks Lusk et al. (2011) Compared 6 cycle tracks with reference streets in Montreal Found a lower relative risk of injury riding on cycle tracks Controlled for exposure Included all collision types Used hospital data to focus on injury collisions Limitations Did not account for injury severity Not a before-after study Montreal. Source: Price Tags (Gordon Price)

15 Studies of Intersection Safety Measures All published and peer reviewed All controlled for exposure or reported cyclist volume* None analyzed injury severity** Early Swedish and Danish study recommendations Placing cycle crossing less than 3 meters (10 feet) from intersection, or Ending cycle track or converting to bike lane meters ( feet) before intersection Unpopular with cyclists due to feeling less safe * Garder (1998) reported change in cyclist volume along with change in crashes without analyzing them simultaneously Jensen (2008) included cyclist volume in model, but did not assess change in relative risk. ** Jensen (2008) did not analyze severity for specific configurations of colored (blue) intersection crossings.

16 Studies of Intersection Safety Measures Early Swedish and Danish study recommendations (continued) Providing advance motor vehicle stop bar 3-5 meters (10-16 feet) behind where cyclists wait In combination with converting cycle track to bike lane on intersection approach Improves perception of safety 35% reduction in observed cyclist collision risk Linderholm (1992) Source: Flickr (Anonymous)

17 Studies of Intersection Safety Measures Later Swedish and Dutch studies recommended Raised cycle crossings 20-33% overall reduction in cyclist crashes* Greater reduction in cyclist risk given more than 50% increase in cyclist volume 50% cyclist risk reduction at intersections 40% reduction in vehicle turning speeds Garder (1998), Leden (2000), Schepers (2011) Source: NL-2011-Transpo *33% based on empirical data; 20% when expert opinions combined with results

18 Studies of Intersection Safety Measures Blue cycle crossings in Copenhagen Fewer collisions and injuries with 1 blue crossing 19% reduction in injuries 10% reduction in crashes Fewer collisions with 2 blue crossings if intersection with < 3-legs More effective at smaller intersections and ones with a lower traffic volume Hypothesized that driver s focus is too dispersed when multiple crossings are marked in blue Jensen (2008) Source: nerdyplanner.blogspot.com

19 Studies of Intersection Safety Measures Finnish studies of measures for 2-way tracks Studied intersection scanning behavior of drivers T-intersections with cycle track on major street Effective measures Speed humps and elevated cycle crossings Stop signs placed in advance of intersection Red cycle crossings combined with advance on-road bicycle warning stencils Proportion of drivers looking right increased by 30% Proportion of drivers looking only to left reduced by 10-50% Summala et al. (1996), Rasanen and Summala (1998)

20 Conclusions Studies comparing cycle tracks to riding in street had several limitations A number did not control for exposure (mainly early studies) Use of cycle tracks by moped riders confounded early Dutch studies Some studies excluded crashes between intersections, not giving overall safety effect Results of studies using a prediction model should be used with caution None of the studies accounted for injury severity

21 Conclusions Preponderance of evidence is that cycle tracks reduce injury severity Reduction in motorized vehicles overtaking cyclists between intersections* = reduction in most severe crash type Cycle tracks associated with increase in intersection crashes if no treatments employed * McCarthy, M. and K. Gilbert, 1996

22 Conclusions Intersection treatments found to be effective Raised cycle crossings Convert cycle track to bike lane meters ( feet) in advance of intersection with bike box Colored crossings* at minor, low traffic volume intersections One colored crossing* if major intersection Colored crossings** with in-pavement bicycle warning stencil in advance of intersection At T-intersections with 2-way cycle track on major throughstreet and motorist approaching from minor street Bike signals another option at major intersections * Tested blue color ** Tested red color

23 Conclusions Bigger Picture Countries with a developed network of urban cycle tracks and other physically separated bikeways Much higher cycling mode share Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Netherlands range from 10%- 27% compared to 1% in US* Much lower fatality rates per kilometer cycled Per 100 million km cycled, Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden range from 1.1 to 1.5 compared to 5.8 in US* * Pucher and Buehler (2008) Photo Source: cycling-embassy.dk

24 Conclusions Bigger Picture As Jensen acknowledged (2007), On the other hand, making these bicycle facilities resulted in more cycling and less motor vehicle traffic. This must have contributed to benefits due to more physical activity, less air pollution, less traffic noise, less oil consumption, etc. A recent study shows that an extra pedal cycled kilometer in Copenhagen gives an average gain in health and production solely due to more physical activity of rather more than 5 DKK, which equals about 1 US$*. The positive benefits may well be much higher than the negative consequences caused by new safety problems. (pg 14) * City of Copenhagen Traffic Dept. Bicycle Account 2006

25 Recommendations for further study Analyze change in collision type distribution and resulting severity Separate fatal and disabling injuries from minor ones Separate more minor bike-bike/ped and low speed auto collisions from more severe crashes Control for exposure Analyze relative risk Analyze effectiveness of intersection treatments in US context

26 QUESTIONS? Beth Thomas Pedestrian & Bicycle Coordinator California Department of Transportation, District

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